October 22, 2012

Wind farm ban becomes issue in Sangamon county board election

Proposed changes to the county wind farm ordinance have become an issue in the election for Sangamon county board seats. In August, I wrote about the county board threatening to turn away green jobs and clean energy by adopting the most extreme restrictions in Illinois. The post got some attention, including a promotion to the front page of DailyKos.

County board members punted the issue again by extending the ban on wind farms for another six months. Ordinance changes, which may halt development of a wind farm proposed in western Sangamon county, will be considered again after the election.

The delays, hesitation, and threatened destruction of a project that would create badly needed green jobs has been raised by several candidates challenging county board incumbents. Mike Ziri was the first to contact me after my blog post. Ziri is a Springfield Democrat running in district 11. Both Ziri and Mike Crews spoke in favor of wind farm jobs at the Liberty Brew & View candidate night last month. Crews referenced his opponent's vote for the wind farm moratorium in a campaign mailing.

The sponsor of the ordinance is Springfield county board member Tim Moore. I contacted his election opponent, Tony DelGiorno, to ask if this is an issue in his race. He speaks about it with voters while knocking on doors and it's included on his campaign website. Tony sent me this quote:
"In my opinion, Sangamon County should be among the pioneers in renewable energy alternatives in the State of Illinois.  Other communities and counties in Illinois have successfully built wind farms, minimized adverse consequences, and reaped the rewards of increase property tax revenue and the creation of green jobs. The so-called moratorium and overly restrictive ordinance put forward by my opponent demonstrates the shear lack of leadership, ingenuity, and forward thinking that has stagnated the county board.  We need new leadership with new ideas."

gobknobwindThose are refreshing words compared to the hemming and hawing from county board members who seem unable to resolve the issue. My impression is that many Republican board members are hesitating partly due to pressure from a small, but vocal, group of opponents. The dynamics can change if they realize there will be a political cost for stopping the wind farm.

Candidates are making their final push before the election. If you speak with a Sangamon county board candidate, ask whether they support wind farm jobs, and then give your support to those who do.

If you live elsewhere, remember that energy is not just a national issue. Local officials in your area have a large voice in whether we stick with dirty energy sources or build a new energy future.

Note: I didn't want to procrastinate this blog post any longer so I didn't attempt to contact every candidate. If other candidates send me their position, I'll be happy to post those as well.